DAVIS—J.D. Greear has experience preaching to college students. The church he pastors in Durham, N.C. has a reputation of drawing many collegians from the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area.
Therefore, the current president of the Southern Baptist Convention is a natural fit to speak at Collegiate Week, which Greear did Tuesday evening, Aug. 6. This was the second consecutive year, Falls Creek Baptist Conference Center hosted Collegiate Week, Aug. 4-8, which is sponsored by LifeWay Christian Resources.
This also was the first time Greear has preached at Falls Creek. As he began his speaking time in the R.A. Young Tabernacle, he said how impressed he was with the 7,000-seat auditorium.
Greear shared about how his church started with many college students attending, which meant “attendance grew but offerings declined.” He jested that one college student placed a bacon, egg and cheese biscuit in the offering plate one Sunday morning.
One encouraging aspect that Greear mentioned about pastoring many college-age church members are their willingness to serve and give of their time, which has helped Greear and other leaders of The Summit Church set a goal of planting 1,000 churches around the world. He said he challenges his church members, after they graduate from college, to plan their first two years of professional life to be involved in one of these church plants.
He gave a similar challenge to those attending Collegiate Week that they are to be involved in ministry, regardless of their professional aspirations.
“When you accepted the call to follow Jesus, you were called into ministry,” Greear said. “The call to leverage your life for the Great Commission was included in the call to follow Jesus.”
Preaching from the Book of Acts, Greear explained how all Christians, regardless of their position or reputation, can be used by the Holy Spirit.
“The Book of Acts is just a story of ordinary people who obeyed the Holy Spirit, as He put words in their mouths,” Greear said. “Following the Holy Spirit can accomplish more than all the talent in the world can accomplish in 10,000 lifetimes.”
Greear also challenged attendees, as they are passionate about serving people, to make the Gospel the priority message in their service.
“You want to give shoes, dig wells and help people with cancer, and that’s great,” Greear said. “Don’t forget about the most important and the most devastating suffering of all. And that is people are dying without Jesus Christ.”
Collegiate Week thriving at Falls Creek
Collegiate Week attendance increased near 50 percent from last year’s event, according to Bill Noe, LifeWay national collegiate ministry specialist who serves as program director of Collegiate Week.
“It has been great,” Noe said about this year’s Collegiate Week. “We definitely feel like (Falls Creek) is our new home, and the staff continues to be excellent to work with. Now that we’ve learned a little more about Falls Creek and they’ve learned a little more about Collegiate Week, this has been even more seamless and better than ever.”
Noe said Collegiate Week drew many students and leaders from churches, Baptist Collegiate Ministries (BCM) and other campus ministries from all over the country.
“People come from all over North America, Canada, Hawaii and most states in between,” he said. “So many of the groups have really felt a sense of welcome from all the (Oklahoma) BCM groups who were great hosts.”
College-age students were meeting all over the Falls Creek grounds, connecting in impromptu small groups and encouraging each other as they prepared for the upcoming school year.
“College students love community, and I think that’s definitely one thing Falls Creek provides, a place that’s away from every day routine where people can enjoy being with others,” Noe said. “Most of these people are here as leaders with their churches or campus ministries, and they are entering this week with the mindset that the semester is about to start, and they want this week to prepare them for what God is going to use them to do on their campuses.”
This year’s Collegiate Week offered approximately 75 breakout sessions that students could attend throughout the five-day event. Noe said the breakouts were designed to help prepare students for different ministry aspects that appear at college today.
Collegiate Week featured an array of keynote speakers, including Tom Richter and Clayton King, and Christian artist Tadashii gave a concert.
Next year’s Collegiate Week is schedule to return to Falls Creek, Aug. 2-6. Among potential guest speakers next year include Jackie Hill Perry and Matt Carter.